Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

My 2 cents:

Ivan is The One and Only Ivan, a 400-pound gorilla, who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall off I-95. Ivan can paint and draw, and he tells the story of his life at Exit 8 with his friends, Stella, Bob, Julia and Ruby. Ruby and Stella are elephants. Bob is a dog. And, Julia is the compassionate child who comes to the Big Top every night to hang out with the animals, draw and do her homework, while her father cleans the mall.

A poignant story, The One and Only Ivan is also triumphant in the end, a magical tale of hope and solidarity among kindred spirits, whether they be animal or human. By Katherine Applegate, this YA novel won the prestigious Newbery Medal Award for 2013, and was inspired by a true story. It will make readers of all ages think hard about animal habitats, especially ones built by human hands.

Length: 300 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, especially for ages 10 and up. Advisory: there are some scenes with animal cruelty.

Bonus: If you've ever traveled to Zoo Atlanta, you may have seen Willie B., the famous Silverback gorilla and, possibly, Applegate's real-life inspiration.


  1. In 1993 Katherine Applegate saw a NY Times article, "A Gorilla Sulks in Mall as His Future is Debated" which focused on the uncertain fate of a gorilla named Ivan at the B & I Shopping Mall in Tacoma, WA. This real Ivan passed away on August 20, 2012 -- the same year she published The One and Only Ivan. I've got the interview with her at the library if you'd like to read it. Great review for a super book!!! Thank you!

    1. Denise, we appreciate all the work you do at Scotland County Memorial Library, where I checked out this inspiring book. I'd love to see the interview. Thanks!